PHN Explores: New COVID-19 vaccine shows promise in monkeys. Next step: humans (From Live Science)
PHN Content By Mat Edelson
Why You Should Care
We’re all holding out hope that a vaccine against Covid-19 will arrive soon. It’s a three step (or “phase”) process, and this vaccine just cleared its first hurdle; successful testing in animals. The next phase: A clinical trial has begun to see if there’s a safe dosage of the vaccine for humans. This is by no means guaranteed. Stay tuned…
The experts interviewed in the Live Science story feel this vaccine shows promise on several fronts. Six monkeys given several doses of the vaccine over eight days developed antibodies. These antibodies protected them when, a day after the last dose, their lungs were injected with the coronavirus that causes Covid-19. None of the six vaccinated monkeys became seriously ill, while the other six monkeys in the group who received a lung injection containing no vaccine (aka, a “placebo”) developed pneumonia.
Researchers were also encouraged that, in mouse and rat testing, the vaccine seemed to neutralize 10 different types (also called “strains”) of Covid-19 taken from patients in five countries (not the U.S.). These strains are the natural effect of a virus slightly changing (or “mutating”) as it replicates across large populations. The fact that one vaccine appeared to take down so many strains gives researchers hope that it might not take numerous strain-specific vaccines to quell the worldwide outbreak.
Florian Krammer, PhD, professor of vaccinology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (NY)
If you’re interested how past pandemics might predict the future of the Covid-19 outbreak, here’s Florian Krammer quoted in another nicely researched story, How the COVID-19 Pandemic Could End (Source: Scientific American, April 29, 2020, by Lydia Denworth)
Here’s the preliminary report from the researchers in China who studied the vaccine. It has not been peer-reviewed.